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How to Crack Crabs

How to Crack Crabs Boil Photo

With over 4,400 varieties, these crustaceans are a popular, delicious summertime entree. But breaking apart a crabs can seem intimidating. So for you first-timers, here is a breakdown of how to enjoy crabs:

  • Crabs are a messy affair. Make sure to line your eating surface with butcher paper, newspaper or if you’re feeling extra fancy: banana leaves. This will make clean-up a cinch.
  • Turn the crab over and and with a finger or a knife, pry apart the triangular flap on its belly. Pull it back.
    Right at the hinge where the flap connects to the top shell, pry the top shell off the body. Inside you will see gills, and other internal organs. Most of the organs (apart from the gills) are edible and can be eaten, if you’d like, but they’re not for everyone.
  • Split the crab in half using your hands or a knife. This will allow you to pick out all the lump crab meat from the inside of the crab.
  • Pull the legs apart from the body at the joint. The claw meat can be accessed by using a crab cracker or a crab mallet. If you’re using a cracker, gently crack the shell until you can pry the shell apart with your fingers. If you’re using a mallet, use a butter knife like a nail, placing it strategically at the space you want to crack open, and hammer gently the end of the knife gently to pierce the crab shell. You don’t need too much force to break apart the shell.
  • Enjoy it! Don’t sweat the mess. Part of the fun of eating crabs is that it allows you to play with your food again. Getting messy is part of that fun, just make sure to keep a stack of paper towels or wet-wipes nearby for easy clean-up.


Kristina Pines is the Founder and Publisher of Spoonful Magazine. She believes sharing a meal is the oldest and most valuable act of community, providing powerful links to our culture and to those for whom we care most.

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